Dear Dave and the entire Love to Travel Team,
Finally got back from our latest trip and have time to reply on the Costa Rica trip. We had a wonderful time, the resort was really nice and excursions were wonderful. Third time at an Amstar resort and still satisfied. This was definitely above the Sunscape experience, but below the Secrets, but for a family resort it was great. Would have been a little nicer if we could have guaranteed all of our rooms in the same tour but know that happens sometime. When we arrived they did not have accurate bed counts in two of the rooms which required us to have to go to different buildings.
We had some minor issues at the resort regarding minor maintenance of sinks/fringe etc., but in most cases the resort took care of any issue quickly. Unfortunately the last night we had to move rooms as they decided to turn off the water in our ‘tower’ and we had to move at dinner on the last evening. They did send someone to take care of the luggage move, but otherwise no courtesy really of a thank you.
The food was good overall, especially the specialized restaurants. Do note for any other travelers that to get a seat in the Japanese restaurant for the teppanyaki grill you must make reservations days in advance, so we didn’t get to enjoy that, though the sushi was awesome.
Entertainment most nights was kind of lacking, but a couple of evenings they had live musician performances and those were really good. Attended a couple of the afternoon sessions for cooking, wine tasting, etc. and these were pretty good as well.
As for excursions we did not go through the resort but found a local company Ricozz Tours CR that we did a couple of excursions with. They arranged for a guide in Nicaragua which was a terrific day excepted for the ‘controlled’ shopping. We toured some of the country side, took a boat tour on the lake, walked through one of the cities and visited the Chocolate Museum, a cigar factory and a beautiful church on the town square. Lunch was arranged at a local restaurant and was lots of great food. This was where the trip wasn’t as fun, they assigned us ‘guides’ to walk with us while shopping to help with negotiations and translation. This would have been fine if it wasn’t just a racket. It appears that all the booths are owned by the same company, these guides work for them and you are hounded all the way through to buys something if you touch it. It was only a small block area and it was the same thing in every shop and we didn’t have time to go out in the other areas around this little market, supposedly for ‘safety’, but of course they expected tips for their great service in helping us get good deals with the vendors. Similar to what we have experienced on another tour when in Mexico so hopefully next time we will remember to ask before if that’s how they handle any shopping time. The one thing that was better than Mexico is that the goods actually looked like they could be made in Costa Rica instead of having ‘Made in China’ stickers on them. Oh and on the way back to the border we stopped in the mountain area to see the lake and it was totally amazing. Since it was their Mother’s Day celebration day, the whole town had blocks upon blocks of flowers (garden plantings) that were just gorgeous. Then when we get to the little market area around the lake we start seeing a mist rolling through. Well when we get to the lake, all you can see is a ‘fog’ but it’s so amazing because it’s so dense and you walk into it and disappear. While we were there the fog did begin to clear and we were able to see some of the lake. It was a volcano crater to was pretty amazing to see. The shopping in this little town was much better and we had about 10min to walk on our own. Oh and we did go to a volcano this day, but were only allowed 5 minutes at the brim since it’s still active. It was pretty amazing to see, first time for us all to see a live one.
The other tour that we took was to the adventure park. This was a very long and fun filled day and the place that we went was super well organized. I highly recommend it! We did zip Lining through the canopy, water tubing through the white water stream, lunch and then horseback riding to a hidden waterfall. Everyone was able to jump from the top of the waterfall and swim in the bright blue water at the bottom. The tubing was probably my favorite, but need to be probably 12 or older to handle the bumps and tumbles. The zip lining was amazing though slightly terrifying in spots. If we had had more time there is the option to drive to the top of the volcano here as well, but adds another hour to the trip. The drive to/from is about 1-1.5 hrs so this is definitely a full day’s activities as was Nicaragua.
Hope this helps.